Monday, December 08, 2008

Greater China Cup

(aka the 4th Regional Kendo Tournament)

Surprisingly I arrived at 8.15am with more than enough time to change and do the group warm-up. I was still coughing all night long and thought I'd be overslept... The cold I caught made me missed the last squad training before the tournament - and I know I'm not going to do much today.

I got teamed up with Jane and Sinyi (who's a regular visitor to my dojo) for the ladies event.

There were only 7 teams, with us getting "lucky" to go straight to the semi finals (?!). The HK A team defeated Macau on the first round, and it's easy to think that HK have no problem securing medals. (Job already done)

My team faced one of the Guangzhou teams and it quite interesting that there were more than 3 dojo presence (including the boys) in this tournament alone. Our Beijing friend and HK A teammate Xixi told us that a Taiwanese nanadan sensei BUILT a dojo in Guangzhou. No wonder why some of them look so serious into things...

I said "some" because half of them looks younger than me - and they were more interested in taking snaps with one another than watching the matches. Maybe I am getting old.

Back to my match. I'm on jiho and had this girl in white bogu who I've seen before (i.e. not a beginner). The men cuts I've been training on went down the drain with my sickness. My left arm wasn't landing cuts solid enough and so as my fumikomi. On the other hand, this girl was cutting straighter than I thought, and a few times I thought it came really close to losing.

Jane 2-0
Me 0-0
Sinyi 2-0

(Me became the only non-scoring person in the team. Argh)

Finals - HK A vs HK B

Xixi battered Jane who fought harder than before. Xixi always have strong fumikomi - but some say it's not because of her footwork...

No surprise me took on JAY for the Nth time. Blame it on team mangement who always put us in the same fighting position. I wasn't at my best, knew her moves, and was going for a draw - yeah and so went the story.

Although Sinyi has been on-and-off in kendo for longer than I do, she wasn't too experienced in shiai and got carried away waiting not initiating attacked. Agnes was the opposite and got her degote somewhere in the middle of the game.

Jane 0-2
Me 0-0
Sinyi 0-1

(Me didn't lose a point - not sure if its an accomplishment.)

Now that I pocketed Silver, the rest of the day was spent chitchatting to anyone I haven't seen for long...

...Including a mum with kid sitting at the side. There's a mens team from a company dojo in Kaohsiung, Southern Taiwan. The mum is an employee there supporting her boss on taisho, but she and her family has nothing to do with kendo. Poor lady! So we had a little chat about everything and exchanged contacts at the end. 

The game was more fun than seriousness overall, with HK A mens team beating Kaohsiung's only at taisho match at the Semi. Final was HK A vs the improving and impressive Guangzhou team. GZ actually beats HK B to go through, only to be taken down 3-1 by HK A to finish the day. 

Attendance was a bit thin - lucky enough we had teams from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Zhuhai, Kaohsiung and Chengdu to fill the mens' event with. Locally I think we missed a number of good players, some have been busy with work, some happened to be taking the annual JLPT on the same Sunday. The association should really consider another date, seeing there are so many kendo people studying Japanese!

Seeing GZ being better than we all thought made everyone telling me to practice where when I move there next year with my job. I did consider more option in carrying my bogu, but maybe quite difficult going across the border over the weekend if I have to practice in HK... So it's confusing for now, but I'll definitely give them a check once the job is settled.

Pics to follow.

Monday, November 10, 2008


There's the Chinese Taikai coming in a month but not so much of the shiai preparation going on. The dojo has been quiet recently with everyone seeming to be caught at work. Even on a Sunday afternoon like today's practice, there were only 6 of us on rotation!

We were on high with speed today - after some kihon for warm-up, we were doing alternate oikomi-men and splinting tobikomi men. The point is to "hit and run" as fast as we can. That also reminds everyone to go straight through like a train and not jumping up and down, something that we all did before...!

That was an intensive but since I didn't do much exercise in the week, I was so out of breath. I bet there is either my bad breathing rhythm control, or something wrong with my lungs. Looking at Momoko (a kyu grader) I must say I was embarrassed  - she was still standing properly when I was bending over for a painful diaphragm.

Things will be difficult for the next few weeks as I am going to move out of town for work some time next month. I'm glad that there is still good job around, but kendo-wise I'm not too sure if I can manage coming back over the weekend for keiko. Maybe I'll end up joining one of the Guangzhou dojo, but it's gotta be a nightmare to travel back and forth with the bogu and stuff...

Sunday, October 05, 2008


Wow blog post count shows that this is now the 200th post!

I spent most of my past few weeks going around town meeting freelance clients and then some job interviews, leaving only Sats for kendo and little exercise on weekdays. 

For 2 weeks we got a session of tsuki practice leading to sashi-men. Really helpful ideas there Minejima sensei taught.  I value a lot more on the quality of practice other than quantity, now that I can only make once a week in the dojo. It's still a good thing that I can be focused and clear my mind of what I need to do in life.

It's always a tough decision for a career move for everyone. So I hope I'm getting the best deal on my next job. Yosh!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

good day

Yes, I'm finally having a good day!

My wrist is on my side for the whole session, lifting the shinai up and down rather solid.

I notice that actually using MORE of the joint can help cutting, instead of relying on the right hand to do the job.

So it's good to know I'm progressing somehow and am still on track.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Lately we're doing a lot of hypoactive keiko. Very very controlled training with predictable mechanism:-

Pressure at centre > opponent gets off centre > hit men


Pressure at centre > opponent pushes back > hit kote


Pressure at centre > opponent pushes back > hit kote-men


Pressure as you wish, and react as you like (base on the above)

It's a relatively pattern-ed practice, but happens to be difficult, especially facing someone of a similar or higher level. I guess when both sides know the importance of gaining the centre, nothing is easy. Gives me all the sweat just by staying in kamae.

Good thing is, people are coming back to the dojo more often.

Monday, September 08, 2008


This is a totally relaxing Sat with the adults here focusing more on taking the centre by feeling the kensen. Difficult to do and takes time to make it work.

My wrist is letting me down though, after spending 2 hours in the morning riding the bike. The way I pull in the clutch makes my wrist so inflexible afterward. Strange that it triggers the pain after 2 months' break...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Jogging Route

Without consulting Google Earth, I wouldn't know I have been regularly running a near 5k distance...! One longer loop heads north to the racecourse, and the other goes south to the city centre.

But then I was on snail speed - 27 mins? I was checking some distance runner sites and "beginner" should do that under 24 mins... Argh.


A 2-week break and I'm back to keiko.

On a regular Thurs in QE Stadium I expect a good session, but... WHERE ARE ALL THE PEOPLE??

That was just me and David doing some kihon. Very Quiet especially with my minimal kiai...

As usual I'm a bit lost after not picking up a shiai for a while. It's no good getting reminded to stay in the centre all the time.

The 4 of us (with Eda sensei and little Gareth actually) headed off to the local Korean School and watched some friendly shiai - between the HK squad and some young guns from the city of Cheongju. Their kumdo were solid, enough to make everyone on my side panick and attack unnecessarily... The squad really has a lot to catch up with.

Friday, August 08, 2008


I'm going to skip Sun practice for this:-

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Falling down

We're back at QE II Stadium. A great job they've done to the bright lightings, freezing air conditioning with the new wall of mirrors that makes the same gym room looks so much larger.

The down side of it - they've also redo the flooring, which is now SOLID. Oops.

Being back on the freelance front, I am lucky enough to attend all of the Sat practices for the past month or so. Then there's also rather regular jogging, cycling or swimming in my neighbourhood. So my stamina is going up and I'm having a nice tan.

Our ninja yondan friend Minejima-san is constantly picking on me recently. I reckon it's mainly because I'm "younger" and do more of a shiai-oriented style than the rest of the dojo population. He was away for a while, but now stays a bit more often, and so he's trying to practice more seriously. We do notice that he ain't all that sharp comparing to before, and were plotting against him secretly on his weaknesses (easy to say, hard to do. Argh).

What happened was, twice, that I launched for men desparately during jikeiko. He's tall and I tended to jump more. Little that I know I was actually jumping up. That messed up with my centre of gravity, and by the time he pushed a tiny little bit, my a$$ was landing on the floor.

I got the same treatment for the past 2 consecutive weeks. The problem is, I *KNEW* I was going to fall down during my fight, because everytime at tsubazeriai I was all over the place. I was so off whenever he moved his hands and turned to the other side to get a hikimen. More often I had to tell myself to please stand properly before worrying about cutting.

At the food joint, he and Oda-san were talking about this and put on this advice: I seem to be too concerned with hitting on top of the men, because I jump on there and cut at an angle (weak left wrist doesn't help either). Perhaps I should stay to cutting in front of what I see, and it's okay to cut men-gane because of the height difference. Yeah, speaking of disadvantages of being short...

Task of the month: Cut straight, centre and in front of me.

Monday, June 30, 2008


Just filled my piggy bank with another piece of medal. 7 years of kendo has earned me 3 golds, 1 silver, 5 bronzes and 2 kantosho... That said, I usually belong to the ladies division with only 10+ players in total.

Like today there were 12 girls in my group - but surprisingly they cut the juniors into another kyu-grade ladies division.

Not sure about anyone reading, but over here before the ladies matches we tend to be overly relaxed. Like, I did a set of kirikaeshi and some kihon cuts with my mates and that was it. Unlike during lunchtime when all the men and boys are swinging their shinai madly and trying waza stuff. Well, different people, different mindset.

Lucky pool for me, as both of my opponents are shodan, and I finished them in 10 seconds (total). Observing dojo mates told of the 4 "proper shomen" cuts I did stright out of sonkyo. Yeah they're nice I know, as easy as if anyone put their kensen NOT in the centre!

Small world we had here, as I got out of the pool I already got some metal. And on to next was my dear friend Leng from Macau. Met her all the time when we were both at some Taikai in the UK. So we chat a lot whenever we meet again here.

Leng's probably the sharpest of all 12 of us. Noyori san from my dojo is also sharp and scored some fine points from girls above her level (and younger). Surprise to see her like that despite our constant complain of lack of attending keiko last month (me=4, her=1, argh).

So my match with Leng lasted for 6 minutes according to timer-person, with Leng getting a rather typical men-kaeshi-dou when we were both looking exhausting. Say we both lost the sharpness we showed earlier. I had breathing problem, partly due to lack of cardio training recently with it pouring rain every single day, and partly because fighting Leng again is hysteric! It was all fun memories the first time I fought her, at my very first shiai.

Leng went on beating Noyori san and won the game.

My damaged left wrist was doing a good job today, because I remember to keep my grip "in" all the time. Once I tried at dojo practice without gripping the shinai properly, it really hurt so much that my tears went out of my eyes, and I was in pain for the rest of the class. So today is good. Apart from 3 missed kote from Leng on my right arm that align like mini meatballs...

And I have no idea why 6 minutes of kendo can be so tiring. Off to bed now. Hope to get a pic soon.

Sunday, June 01, 2008


We were training at this low ceiling gym yesterday and practicing small waza to avoid breaking the lights. Now I got a pain in the a$$ - seriously I didn't notice how much power from the "hips" I was using. Need a massage there!!

That happens to be the 2nd training I went to for the entire May. Since I don't have to go to work downtown, the bus journey to the faraway has become the least appealing... Tho I did jog around the neighbourhood about twice a week to get some exercise anyway. There's this taikai coming in later the month and I think I am just going to play for a few minutes and get my lunch there.

Actually I took a break last week so as to not further injury by wrist, and to take the bike exam at my best condition. Yet the weather was not helping and the exam was postponed to early July. (It was flooding the whole of last week!) Looks like I got a lot to prepare for very soon...

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Warming up with Weights

Today is Wednesday and I should be training... But I need to finish up some freelance job (from London) and that's why I'm sitting in front of the computer screen again...

There was this TV program last week - Sport Science. It was done by the same team who did Fight Science on Discovery. Remember the muscle man with a katana, who violently chops the human jelly to see how much damage a Japanese blade can make? ...Yeah that's the one.

At one time they wanted to test if weighted warm-up helps. So they gave donut-shape weights to a pro-baseball player (batter) to swing a couple of time before measuring his strikes with a normal bat, and also repeat similar test with a pro-golfer. While the swings "feel" faster to the player, the result didn't show much difference for the speed of the balls.

The most significant change was WHERE the point of impact was. Many strikes were out of the marked "sweet spot" when they rolled in slow motion. So after weighted warm-ups, players will miss where the optimal point they should hit the ball with. Essentially this means the weights are counter-productive... It changes the players sense of balance towards the "bat".

Because of the above, the baseball player receives the impact not just on the bat, but also all the way down to his hands and elbows (that was shown in slow motion for obvious reasons!). The swings are getting less flexible, and will possibly let the player develop "Tennis elbow" or other wrist injuries. I wonder if this is relevant to those who keep breaking their shinai... hmmm...

In the end, I'm trying make excuses of not doing any more ridiculous 2-shinai hayasuburi warm-up at the old squad training. I understand the muscle-building and cardio-training parts, but for warm-ups - better stay away...

Friday, April 11, 2008


Hong Kong is the new kendo holiday destination. We had the Kansai Student coming in last weekend (which I escaped). Next week we are having... Sensei from Japan again!

I was reading this email and see the list of names...


This is for the coaching seminar/ exam, which again I am not going to sit.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Relax no more

So, back from a 2-week holiday in Vietnam. Walked a lot, ate too much, got a tan (mainly on the sandal straps!), and exploring cool activities such as crossing roads swamped with mopeds, and diving! There are pics on my flickr account if anyone interested.

Back in the dojo last Sat was a very quiet practice. Only 8 of us turned up, 7 of those guys in their mid30s to 40s!

We didn't do any crazy kakarigeiko or even jikeiko, but the 2-hr practice was pretty exhausting. From checking ourselves from the mirror doing shomen uchi with seme ashi, to doing kirikaeshi, and cutting each other up using seme ashi... The more I focus, the more intense I felt.

But the disappointing part went to me not really understand what was going on... I moved in okay, but very bothered by the opponent's shinai in the centre. Why was his damn shinai still in the centre anyway?? In the practice I had problems cutting men AND kote, and it was very frustrating.

Someone pointed out that I cut men from the right - simply that was because I didn't run into the centre!! I really need to remember this.

I got myself a new wrist support - works fine in the dojo, but the pain creeps in that night. I biked okay today, but almost crashed doing U-turns... Argh.

Friday, March 07, 2008


This clip was on the local Finance-Info Cable TV channel a while ago. Your usual brief intro to kendo, an interview with those from Seidokan, and the taikai montage from the Chinese Taikai last Dec.:-

Got a bit of Yours Truly from 3:18 onwards, lasts for 3 seconds...

On repeated playback it's obvious that I hit with no power from the left and everything from the right (aka flicking). Even 3 seconds is enough to show. Argh.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Asian Open on a Cold

Well, I am still coughing after weeks of medication... The taikai was a week ago, and I can only get some proper sleep now...

My sensei signed me up for the annual Hong Kong Asian Open Tournament, so despite having a runny nose and super cold, I still have to fill in for Team HK.

I missed a lot of action on Sat for the 2nd Dan below 3-men team event, because I had to take my motorbike class. It was really raining heavily when I ride on the streets. My jeans were soaking wet when I got home to change for the tourney's welcome party. This wasn't helping my sickness at all!

The party went nuts when the guys from Ajiken (Asia Kendo Club) played their kendo jan-ken-pon wearing a tablecloth!

My sensei spared a bed at the hotel so that I can make the team warm-up at 7.45am on Sun. So I had a good night of rest (and overdosing the cold tabs).

You can see that by the tone of what I said, I didn't feel like going on the taikai. It's the same story for the pass few months - wrist injury, lack of practice, being sick, etc. It seems like I was never in shape for the previous few taikai last year...

But things changed when we get to the warm-up in the morning. Somehow doing it in a group got me in the mood. I was doing my serious suburi, irikaeshi, kihon and uchikomi just like the rest of the team.

Strange things was that I got arranged into Team C at the ladies with Noyori-san and Eda-sensei (!). Definitely not a winning team on first sight. But in the pool we got a Beijing team and a Guangzhou team to beat.

Beijing senpo, Liu, was a tall girl and I've seen her before. For the whole day I've been using my current tokui-waza, which is a plain-and-simple tobikomi-men. I'm still working on the "seme" Minejima-san taught in the class aaaages ago, but it's proven to work with success.

Me - MM vs K - Liu

I lost that kote immediately after "nihonme", because I want to bend over for kote..! That was a bad move.

Noyori-san went on to fight Yasuda, a Japanese girl my height but in JODAN. She was not *that* strong, but Noyori-san was not too prepared for that.

Noyori - 0:2 - Yasuda
Eda - 2 :0 some girl.

On to the next match will be one of Guangzhou's team. There's a bit of a mess for the logistics, and we were left cooling down for 4 rounds of other teams fighting before we went on again. But then there was a long encho right before my fight, and I was so bumped up when it was my turn.

Me - MM vs o - Guangzhou girl (in 10 sec)

Our team got a straight 6:0 in the end (I reminded everyone to score everything to stay on top of our pool of 5 teams). The Guangzhou team gave us dou-stickers, and apparently someone runs an online shop for that!

We were now facing Minoh (Osaka) team B, composed with some older ladies (late 30s-40s)

Senpo was similar height of myself and not fast. However I'm too eager to hit and lost a lot of opportunities to cut spot-on. Towards the end of the match I felt out of breath (my nose was blocked) and exhausted. Coffee-high was gone and I only got a hikiwake from there.

Me - 0 vs 0 - Senpo
Noyori - 2 vs 0 - Chuken
Eda - 2 vs 1 - Taisho

The helpers replaced the scoreboard paper so fast that I miscalculated the points, and told everyone that we were over. Not until the ladies from Minoh came say thank you and "Gambatte kudasai" that we realized we have to fight on - to the semi-finals!

Our opponents were the Thai. Well, actually I think the first 2 are Thai-Japanese with a darker complexion, and the third has Thai lastname. The Japanese I got was quite strong, and I lost because my skill was worse than hers (nothing else to blame).

The chuken from Phuket was also good, but we were more impressed with the Thai girl in Taisho from the previous match we watched (she won against a Japanese). Though Eda-sensei scored on her.

Me - 0:2
Noyori - 0:0
Eda - 2:1

So we were out (at last!). We lost by 1 point (unnecessarily) and the thai team or the winning team (Minoh A) didn't seem "unbeatable", say, comparing to university students etc.

After that I gave my wrist a lot of massage - I didn't feel the pain during the match, but I know I have some flexiblity problem there (hence I can't cut kote properly). The whole lack-of-practice issue has not been solved so far, and I am stuck at the same level (or worse) 1/2 year ago when I got my sandan. In recent practice, I find it more difficult to keiko with some kohai who are a lot more attentive. Also that in shiai I can only get a draw to someone who is around my level, which is evidently saying that I have shown no improvement.

OK I know after all that whining - it's all about going into the dojo... Or should I fix my wrist first..?

I spent the rest of the time supporting the boys. This is a great year for Team HK, with Hamazaki + Minejima san's G team going to Bronze for the team event.

The winner was the fav pick - Ajiken A. Some of these guys were definately on a nasty hangover (remember what I said about them at the welcome party?)

With the sickness, I only picked 2 people to fight at godou keiko. One is Yasuda the Jodan girl, whom I tried a good handful of tsuki on. And also my old friend Danny from Glasgow who came all the way from Fukuoka. A mad friendly fight was what I needed.

Now I'll getting ready for a non-kendo vacation for 2 weeks in March. I hope my wrist can take the time off, and I can get back to proper training when I come back (and I need a miracle healing in between). There are lots of visitors coming, including a Mitsubushi team, and Kansai Student Renmei I heard!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Back in the Habit

Hello peeps!

Got this piece of metal last month (Jan 19) at the local team tournament. That was my come-back taikai after 2 months of recovery from the wrist injury.

Our dojo filled a 5-person ladies team on the mixed event. The week before there's a slight dispute over whether the girls should withdrawn from entering the taikai... But luckily everyone seems to have no problem fighting guys. (...Sometimes I wonder what makes the sensei so worried about our safety...)

"D" team from HKKA was our first opponent. Noyori-san points out that they look beginner-ish, and so they were. Though I wasn't too sharp fighting as senpo (not sure why I was put there, after no kendo for 2 months!!), and the first match ended with me losing to a funny silent kaeshi-do. Everyone else trashed their opponent, and we were up the 2nd round.

City U's team, filled with younger, bigger uni students, was next. Our dojos had girls fighting Tse in Red-do a couple of times in previous taikai, and all complained about the hard hittings. When I started that I didn't feel much of that, mainly because I switched to attack mode. 2:1 was the result of my match, after losing to a kote in between 2 debana-men. Not recalling much from here, but the girls behind me fought well, and we won against the imaginary bullies (they weren't much so).

Horiguchi-san on taisho was the one shouting "Ikuso--" (Go!) after team bow off before the match. I guess this worked quite well for the team as a whole. Especially her 10-sec ninja kendo on taisho match always made a climactic scene to watch.

Third up was Shojinkan, K-sensei's squad featuring 3 Japanese and a Korean, including "bullet train" Hamasaki as senpo. Everybody in sight warned me about him, how he can hit from to-maai, how fast he can finish a match (5 sec...argh), etc. None of us thought that we have a chance against them, but we battle on.

I bet a lot of people watching were counting how many seconds I could last against Hamasaki. Well that's what I was thinking too, but the whole point of the match was "not to lose points". I made a lot of blocking and ducking just to stay longer in the court, and this tactic worked until aafter 2 mins, when he launched a men after a short ai-kakari-geiko. He did another men immediately after "nihonme" to end the match.

Somehow this had made the girls thought we weren't fighting an invincible team. Both Noyori-san and Pik scored back after me, and when Takahashi-san got a draw, we already won! Again, Horiguchi-san made her quick finish, and the audience went mad...!

Because our girls team made it to the semi-finals!! No one, not even ourselves, expected this.

We were one-girl short on our next match against HKKA's A team, as Takahashi-san pulled her leg muscles on her last match (like myself, she's out of practice).

I got Joseph, younger of the Chan bros who practiced since they were v young. He's of a simliar age and level as I am, but obviously practices more regular than I was. My rusty kendo let him won a clean 2:0. The rest of the teammates followed suit, and we ended up with 9:0 after a no-show for Takahashi-san's match. I guess at that point we were so not-concerned about winning or even fighting, and just simply lost the momentum with Takahashi-san's injury.

Team bronze (left to right) - Horiguchi, Takahashi, Noyori, Jenny, Pik
BTW that's designer dojo jacket, designed by ours truly.

This medal has the best design of what I kept so far. The hosting dojo, Sekishinkan, must have had it made in Japan.

Now I'm back in weekly practice, but planning to get more often because a) the Asian Tournament is coming, and b) I got free time after finishing more freelance work, and c) I passed the bike exam, waiting for my Learner's license to be issued. My wrist is healing 95% with only mild pain left.

It did not feel right when I was the "weakest link" in my team, after losing 3 out of 4 matches. Some say that my opponents were also stronger of their team, but then I could have at least pull a draw. Simply enough, I was not in shape.

This Sun I even turned up at squad training at record-low temperature of 9 Celsius..! Made me feel less guilty of my performance. Sadly, the training has been minimized into 15-min of kihon and then 30-min of long-queue shiai-keiko, finished by 30-min of jigeiko. All very different from when I left the squad.

Hope that I can get back in shape in time for the Asian Tournament, which is only 3 weeks away!